The View Through The Windshield - Car Blog

A Blog About Cars ... And Everything Else That Catches My Eye
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Thursday October 31, 2013

AutoBiography - Cars In My Life; Comfy Chairs - In Search Of Luxury: This is the final installment in this eight-part series, which began in 2011. A list of all chapters can be found here.

In an earlier chapter, I wrote about collector cars. They were interesting and attention-getting machines but lacked the comfort and safety features of modern vehicles.

When it comes to transportation, everyone has different needs. Wants. Desires. Passions. And budgets. That's why there are so many different kinds of vehicles available in the marketplace.

Thanks for stating the obvious.

You're quite welcome.

If all buyers had the goal of utilitarian, sensible transportation, Checker Motors would still be in business, happily making 1962 Marathons. These taxi-based vehicles were practical, roomy and virtually indestructible. But most people eventually want something more than pure utility. Which brings me to the subject of luxury cars.

Jeremy Clarkson wrote that older people want posh, comfortable cars: "They like wingback chairs and being warm." Jeremy notes that when a well-to-do older person is asked by an airline where he'd like to sit, he will choose "first class where the seats are sumptuous and the wine is fine." He will not say, "Ooh, is there any chance that you could spread-eagle me across the jet intake?"

Indeed. Luxury cars offer posh, quiet interiors, with soft leather seats that fit your body and other amenities not found in lesser vehicles.

I had my first taste of luxury ... (more >>>)

joe sherlock blogOff-Target: A target-date fund - sometimes called a life-cycle fund - is a mutual fund which uses a time-variable ratio of stocks to bonds. It's a mindless sort of investment which gradually shifts its holdings towards bonds as an investor's age climbs.

Target-date funds are aimed at retirement plans and have appeal because they "offer a lifelong managed investment strategy so should remain appropriate to an investor's risk profile even if left accidentally unreviewed."

Ummmm ... if you're 'accidentally' not reviewing your portfolio on a fairly regular basis, you're an idiot.

There is an old saw that you take your age and subtract it from 100. The remainder is the percentage of stocks which should be in your investment portfolio. So if you're 65, you should have 35% in stocks and the rest in bonds.

Such a simplistic formula may have been relevant a half-century ago but ... (more >>>)

Now Serving Üderbratten: Gaststättenneueröffnungsuntergangsgewissheit is a German word meaning total confidence that a newly-opened restaurant is doomed to fail. Literal translation: "Inn-New-Opening-Downfall-Certitude."

Germans have words for everything. Usually long ones.

Quote Of The Day is from Don Luskin: "Duct tape is like 'The Force'. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together."


Wednesday October 30, 2013

Car Sighting: Last week, I saw my first 2014 Corvette Stingray on Interstate 205 in Vancouver. It was jet black and looked much better in person than in photos - very sleek. The back end and taillights, which have been the subject of much criticism, looked fine to me.

The Dream Of A Nice Ride: Lots of guys lust after cool cars. I can't speak for the rest of mankind but I think my interest in owning peer-approved machinery was due to a traumatic bicycle experience in childhood.

When I was growing up, every kid - including me - wanted an AMF Roadmaster bike. Or a Schwinn Panther. Alas, my parents bought me a J. C. Higgins from Sears - the bicycle equivalent of a '49 Nash Airflite, '77 AMC Pacer or '01 Kia Rio. Or a 1953 Plymouth Cranbrook.

the view through the windshield

J.C. Higgins was a brand to be shunned and laughed-at by one's pre-teen peers. It was a serviceable ride - I used to buy parts for it at Pep Boys - until ... (more >>>)

Book Review: 'Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, Automotive Daring, and the Race to Revive America' by Jason Fagone

The X Prize Foundation is best known for its contest that encouraged the development of a suborbital spaceship. More recently, the foundation offered an award of $10 million to anyone who could build a safe, mass-producible car that could get the equivalent of 10o mpg by 2010.

This book tells the story of some of the entrants - ranging from a venture-capitalized California company to a group of Illinois dreamers who scratch-built a vehicle in backyard pole barn.

This is less a story about cars than it is about the personalities behind it. The various back stories and mini-dramas make for enjoyable reading. Many of the quirky individuals reminded me of ... (more >>>)

joe sherlock blogFour Reasons Why ... I don't 'get' the whole gay thing:

1. Responding to complaints from gay groups, Disney has changed its policy to allow same-sex couples to participate in a popular Fairy Tale Wedding program. But if you refer to gays as 'Fairies', they get very pissed.

2. "We are updating our Fairy Tale Wedding guidelines to include commitment ceremonies," Disney Parks and Resorts spokesman Donn Walker said. Gays also get very pissed if you imply that gayness is a mental disorder, yet they have "commitment ceremonies", which sounds like a series of welcome parties at a mental institution. (Of course, one could make the argument that anyone - gay or straight - who pays $8,000+ for a brief ride in a glass coach with a mouse is nuts.)

3. Gays are supposed to be exceptionally creative as a group yet they can't come up with better and more clever names than "commitment ceremony" or "marriage."

4. The vast majority of gays are liberal Democrats yet its the Republicans that are known as the 'Grand Old Party', which sounds like something fabulous that Truman Capote might have hosted. (permalink)

Question Of The Day is from Frank J. Fleming: "Since Obama doesn't seem to know anything about all the important stuff going on, can we talk to his supervisor?"

The President claims he didn't know about Fast & Furious, Benghazi, the IRS scandal, the Petraeus investigation, NSA spying, all of the Obamacare problems and more.

On a related note, remember when Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) called Obama a liar during Barry O's health care speech to a joint session of Congress in September 2009? It turned out that Wilson wasn't wrong, he was simply prescient.

Bad Pun of the Day: What do you call a well-behaved snake? A civil serpent.


Tuesday October 29, 2013

car blogWhen Technology Goes Blooey: Let me get to the finale first - by 1:30 pm Monday, it was sunny with temperatures in the mid-50s, so I fired up '39 Plymouth coupe and took a drive. It will probably be my last one of the season, since I don't want to gas up again until the dreaded Winter Mix season is over. (It has now begun around these parts; tankers are delivering full loads of oxygenated crap-gas. And will continue to do so until mid-April.)

The Fall colors are now well past peak and Sunday's rain storm knocked a lot of leaves off trees. But the drive was fun and the car steered and handled better than last week because I properly inflated its wide-whitewall tires. I hadn't checked them in months and they were quite low. Ooops. As an alleged car guy, I have no excuse for this except that I'm old, forgetful and lazy. Take your pick.

Checking the tires happened because I drove my Lexus today and the instrument panel message center informed me that one of my front tires was low. I fired up my air compressor and, while it was pressurizing the tank, checked the tires. Sure enough there was a tire with 26 psi in it. I filled it to 32 but the message reappeared when I restarted the car. I filled both front tires to 36 psi but the message board was still warning me that the left front was still down to 26.

This is probably caused by a bad pressure sensor in the wheel but the message is annoying and I'm tempted to fix it Homer Simpson-style by covering the message center with black electrical tape.

The Lexus is the first car I've owned with tire-pressure sensors, so I spent time yesterday cursing Progress and shaking my fist at All Things Wireless.

Gorgeous: The 2015 Hyundai Genesis looks very much like the stunning HCD-14 Genesis concept car, which debuted at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show in January. This is good news.

joe sherlock blogThe Finite Limits Of Memory ... from Season Five of 'The Simpsons':

Homer: "Oh... and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember when I took that home wine-making course and I forgot how to drive?"

Marge: "That's because you were drunk."

Homer: "And how!"

Don't Fall Off ... when you reach the End of the Internet.

Who's Sorry Now? Quote of the Century is from Elton John: "I'm the Connie Francis of rock and roll."

Bad Pun Of The Day: A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.


Monday October 28, 2013

car blogBarry O. Indicted For Murdering Pontiac: When General Motors discontinued Pontiac, it did so on explicit orders from the Obama administration, according to former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz.

Speaking at an event at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles, Lutz said, "The Feds basically wanted to get GM down to Cadillac and Chevrolet. They said, "you don't need all these brands. You need one prestige brand, and one mass-market brand." And we said "well we can't get rid of Buick because Buick is important in China, and if Buick becomes an orphan in the United States then the Chinese are no longer gonna be interested in it."

And the Feds said "Fair enough, but everything else goes." We said well we'd also like to keep GMC. They said, "Well, GMC is basically just like Chevrolet," and we said, "That may be true, there may be a lot of shared components but GMC has an entirely different image, a different customer base and people are willing to pay different prices for a GMC, and here's the profitability," and the Feds said, "Whoops, okay, keep GMC.""

auto nlogHigh-Priced, High-Risk Stock: Merrill Lynch has issued a research report on Tesla, the manufacturer of expensive electric vehicles and it is generally negative.

"Despite our view that Tesla is an important innovator in the electric vehicle market, with solid technology and a reputable brand, we continue to believe meaningful execution challenges remain and the shares are overvalued.

Furthermore, we believe Model S demand could cool off once early adopters receive vehicles and expect the ultimate addressable market for luxury, electric vehicles to be smaller than many expect."

Tesla has the backing of a lot of rich and powerful people, so I won't predict that it will be out of business next week or next year. But I don't see it as a viable company for the longer term.

RIP: Marcia Wallace, the wacky, red-headed receptionist on 'The Bob Newhart Show' and the voice of teacher Edna Krabappel on 'The Simpsons', has died at age 70.

Business Tip: For producing those cover-your-butt corporate reports or phony business plans used to sucker banks, venture capitalists and investors out of their hard-earned money, you need never be at a loss for words. Or buzzwords. Just go here.

Liar Awards: On Fox News' 'Special Report' Friday panel, Jonah Goldberg said that "Obamacare will go down in history as the biggest domestic policy lie ever told by a U.S. president."

The second place liar award goes to FDR who said that Social Security was merely "a temporary welfare insurance program to help widows and fatherless children through these difficult economic times."

World's Shortest Joke: "A dyslexic man walks into a bra..." And then there's the dyslexic, agnostic insomniac who stayed awake all night, wondering if there really is a dog.


Thursday October 24, 2013

auto blogAutumn Haze: We've had so much sunny weather that the skies have become slightly hazy. At noontime, they were blue and cloudless. After lunch, I backed my '39 Plymouth coupe out of the garage and took a drive.

At 12:30 pm, the temperature was a pleasant 61 degrees. The formerly-brilliant Fall colors of last week are now fading to brown. Lots of leaves have now fallen. There was still color to be seen but Fall colors are now past peak. In any case, I enjoyed my back roads excursion.

Driving around the country lanes of North Clark County was a pleasant way to begin the afternoon. I savored my time behind the wheel because the old car driving season will soon come to an end.

I didn't spot any other old cars today, although yesterday morning I saw a fellow piloting an white MG Midget with the post-1974 black rubber nose. He had the top down and looked like he was quite cold. Temperatures were in the mid-40s at the time.

Interior Packaging: Today's cars are larger than their predecessors and offer substantially have much more interior space. The Honda Civic of today is almost identical in length to the Accord of 20 years ago. But it offers a longer wheelbase than that old Accord - translating to a smoother ride. (For a good ride, there's nothing better than long wheelbase. Ask anyone who has ridden in an old Cadillac 75.)

Most cars now stretch the wheelbase and tighten the front and rear overhangs to keep maintain the vehicle's overall length. The result - more interior room and improved riding comfort.

car blog

Back in 1973, I sketched such a car - a family sedan offering the interior packaging of a limo. The car was like a VW Dasher, but had an 18 inch longer wheelbase. The overall length was only 185 inches, almost a foot shorter than a 1973 Chevy Nova "compact."

Laugh at the styling (by today's standards) but my little limousine offered body color urethane front and rear 5-mph bump-proof fascia and had cleaner lines than many cars of that era. And the interior packaging efficiency was 30 years ahead of its time.

Fall Foliage: When the Fall colors were at peak, they were beautiful to behold. I shot this photo from the back deck of our house:

joe sherlock auto blog

Unfortunately, the leaves are rapidly turning brown. They soon will be gone and Winter will be upon us.

joe sherlock blogHow Bad Is It? The Obamacare sign-up program is such bad shape that Jon Stewart, usually a drooling cheerleader for anything involving Barry O., compared Obama's 'sales pitch' in the Rose Garden Monday to that of ol' Gil Gunderson, the failure-prone salesman from 'The Simpsons'.

Loosely patterned on Jack Lemmon's desperate, beleaguered real-estate agent from 'Glengarry Glen Ross', Gil has managed to hold down only one sales job for longer than a few days. He kept his job at Red Blazer Reality for over twenty years by selling his own house to himself several thousand times. He once lived at the Springfield Men's Mission but was forced out of the premises because he had overstayed the "six month occupancy limit."

Selling Obamacare is proving to be as difficult for Obama as it was for Gil to try and sell those Coleco computers to Springfield Elementary School: "Now, let's talk rust-proofing. These Colecos'll rust up on ya' like that, er ... shut up, Gil. Close the deal ... close the deal!"

Estate-Bottled Ripple? Convenience store chain 7-Eleven plans to start selling fine wines in many of its locations.

Book Review: 'The Society for Useful Knowledge: How Benjamin Franklin and Friends Brought the Enlightenment to America' by Jonathan Lyons

Benjamin Franklin and his contemporaries (John Bartram, Benjamin Rush, Thomas Godfrey and others) wanted to improve the lot of humankind through collaborative inquiry and fostered an intellectual and scientific revolution that laid the foundation for the soon-to-be political revolution.

It is always interesting to read about Franklin's inventiveness, business acumen and insatiable curiosity but ... (more >>>)

Headline Of The Week is from The Onion: 'Origami Bird Poached For Scrap Paper.'

the view through the windshield

Quote Of The Day is from Jimmy Fallon "A new study found that dogs can actually feel genuine love for their owners, while cats just keep a journal of all the things they hate about you."


Tuesday October 22, 2013

car blogGet It While You Can: I've said before that the end of old-car driving season is nigh and my opinion has been validated by many sightings of old iron on the road in the past week. People are obviously getting in as many rides as they can before the rains commence.

Last Thursday, I spotted a an old '66 red Buick Skylark convertible driven by a gray-haired retiree with an old guy cap. When new, this was Buick's compact car; it looks much larger in today's downsized passenger car world.

On Friday, we had lunch at Los Jalapenos. There was a very nice '38 Oldsmobile two-door sedan in the parking lot. The paint sparkled and the interior looked freshly redone. 1938 Oldsmobiles have very prominent and distinctive grilles - a big but pleasant mouthful of chrome.

Yesterday, I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and took a drive. Along the way, I spotted a sleek yellow sports car that I couldn't identify. It looked like a '70s Corvette that had been customized to look Lotus-like or a Lotus that had been enlarged and made to look like a Corvette. Or some obscure kit car. A mystery.

I can report that, at 11:30 am, the temperature was a brisk 52 degrees but the sky was sunny and bright. There was still lots of color to be seen but Fall colors are now past peak and leaves are coming down. In any case, I enjoyed my back roads excursion.

Speaking Of Car Sightings ... my brother spotted an Alfa Romeo 4C being valet parked at the Boston Four Seasons Hotel over the weekend. The car did not have U.S. plates.

Whither NASCAR? In the early years of NASCAR stock car racing, cars looked like the models you saw on the road. Except for the missing hubcaps and the numbers on the doors. The first official Strictly Stock Division race had nine makes participate, including Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler, Ford, Hudson, Kaiser, Lincoln, Mercury and Oldsmobile.

the wiew through the windshield

In some instances, rental cars were actually used as race cars. Of course, no one told Hertz about it. The participating cars always "looked" stock even if they had been tweaked by the likes of Holman-Moody or Smokey Yunick.

By the 1980s, cars no longer looked like street machines. They were rolling billboards for corporate sponsors. The multi-colored sponsor decals covered up the styling of the cars. Which was just as well because they were 'template' machines - aerodynamically-efficient, cartoon parodies of the lines of the production vehicles they were supposed to emulate.

So what should become of NASCAR? ... (more >>>)

Hi-Yo Silver! Tonto and the Lone Ranger are camping in the desert. They set up their tent, then go to sleep. Some hours later, Tonto awakens. "Kemo Sabi, look up at the sky and tell me what you see." The Lone Ranger replies, "I see millions of stars." "What does that tell you?" asks Tonto. The Lone Ranger ponders for a minute ...

"Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets.

Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three.

Theologically, it's evident the Lord is indeed all powerful and we are but small and insignificant.

Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.

What does it tell you, Tonto?"

Tonto is silent for a moment, then speaks. "Someone has stolen our tent."

Bad Pun of the Day: Can a shoe box? No, but a tin can.


Monday October 21, 2013

car blogThe Best Season Of All: Pardon me for repeating myself but Autumn has always been my favorite time of the year - the not-too-cold but still-sweater-weather temperatures, the glorious colors of nature and the overall crispness in the air. The heat of Summer has dissipated and the gloom of Winter remains out of sight and out of mind.

Last Friday, it was sunny and 63 degrees at 1:00 pm. I backed my '39 Plymouth coupe out of the garage and took a little tour, admiring the just-about-at-peak foliage. There was lots of it to see on the country lanes of North Clark County.

It was a pleasant way to begin the afternoon.

Low Voltage: After the federal government spent billions of dollars on federal tax credits and subsidies to promote all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, they accounted for less than half of one percent of the 11.7 million light vehicles purchased in the U.S. during the last nine months.

General Motors was supposed to produce and sell 120,000 Chevrolet Volts in 2013 to keep pace with the presidents goal. However, despite a $7,500 federal tax credit and a price drop in August, GM only managed to sell 16,760 Volts during the first three quarters of this year.

And I bet a lot of those sales were to government agencies. (permalink)

End Of The Line: After nearly 80 years in business, Aristo-Craft Trains will cease operations by the end of 2013. The G-scale and O-gauge model railroad manufacturer is based in Irvington, N.J.

"Since 1935, we have provided service and innovation to the hobby industry," said the Polk family, owners of Aristo-Craft. "In this latest downturn, we cut back staff to the minimum required to survive. Then the government battle over the debt ceiling drove the consumer market down even further."

Aristo-Craft had been growing steadily until 2008. Like many hobby manufacturers, Aristo-Craft fell on hard times when the Great Recession hit. The company managed to stay afloat but ... (more >>>)

Once Upon A Time In America: If you ever visit the TMZ site, you'll find it full of celebrity 'doings' - the tasteless antics of the otiose Kardashians, Miley Cyrus' latest self-degradation, Justin Bieber's bad behavior, Lamar Odom's drug-fueled behavior, the outrageous quotes from various low-brow rap stars, social flotsam or cultural jetsam created by ill-behaved reality-show stars and other appalling entertainment 'news'.

It wasn't always that way. Once upon a time, Hollywood was full of classy celebrities who worked hard to entertain and kept personal failings behind closed doors.

Scott Johnson of Powerline has provided a glimpse into those good old days. The setting is a 1958 'Steve Allen Show' broadcast from NBC studios in Burbank. Allen opened the show with his signature song 'This Could be the Start of Something Big', written by him and published in 1956.

Allen changes some of the lyrics to reflect the Southern California location of this 1958 television show. The five-minute video clip of the show is worth watching just to see the talent of the various stars who perform the song.

As you watch the performers during the long tracking shot, it is important to remember the severe technical limitations of live television in those days. Television cameras were full of ... (more >>>)

Childhood Revenge: James Lileks believes that, as a child, Bill Gates spent his summer doing housework at his parents' request, fuming, "OK. Fine. I have to do chores, I'm going to do chores. But someday I'm going to find a way to make the world curse windows as much as I do."

Quote Of The Day is from Rita Rudner: "My mother buried three husbands ... and two of them were only napping."


Friday October 18, 2013

auto blogThe Joy Of Fall: We are either at peak color or very close to it around these parts. Fog obliterated everything all morning but finally lifted around noon. At 1:00 pm, the temperature was a crisp 52 degrees but the sun was brilliant and the skies were blue - perfect old car driving weather.

I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and took a back roads loop to admire and appreciate the many colors of the season. Light browns, pale yellows, maroons, fiery yellows and brilliant reds were in abundance.

Then there were the dazzling red emergency lights of an ambulance in my rear view mirror. I quickly pulled over and let him roar by as he headed east toward Hockinson at a rapid clip.

A quick glimpse of Mt. St. Helens revealed a fully snow-covered ball.

All in all, I had a very pleasant drive. And savored it because my old car driving season will soon come to an end. Too soon.

car blogHot Lease Deals: Using pumped-up residuals - which may come back to bite them three years from now - automakers and their financing arms are offering very attractive leases on new cars.

"Through June of this year, leasing accounted for 25.7% of new car sales, versus 22.2% in 2012. A decade ago, leased vehicles represented just 17.5% of the market."

I've never leased a car, so I have no expertise to offer. My company once leased a forklift truck with a seven-year lease program including an end-of-lease buyout of one dollar.

Many folks today consider a car lease payment as a routine, perpetual monthly budget item. I've never thought that way.

Book Review: 'The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence' by Gerald Blaine with Lisa McCubbin

Based on his own recollections as well as correspondence with fellow Secret Service agents, Jerry Blaine tells of the Secret Service and President John F. Kennedy, especially the events surrounding the assassination.

Unfortunately ... (more >>>)

RIP: Carl Goldenberg, former president of the candy company that made Goldenberg's Peanut Chews has died at age 85. He was a third-generation operator of the family business, joining it in 1950 and spending more than 50 years there.

the view through the windshield

The business was started in 1890 by his grandfather David, a Romanian immigrant, as a small candy store on Frankford Avenue in Philadelphia. Peanut Chews - a bar of peanuts coated in molasses and chocolate - have been produced since 1917.

Peanut Chews were spawned shortly after World War I, and the military began including them in K-rations. The candies remained popular with soldiers after they mustered out. It remained a regional confection until 2006, when Goldenberg's Peanut Chews became available in all 50 states. Peanut Chews generated about $15 million in annual sales before the family sold the business in 2003 to Just Born Inc. of Bethlehem, PA, maker of Peeps and Mike and Ike candies.

At my big birthday bash this year, every attendee received a table souvenir - a box of Goldenberg's Peanut Chews.

Nothing Has Been Solved: The alleged 'resolution' of the debt crisis is nothing more than kicking the can down the road. And failing to turn down ... (more >>>)

Crude But Effective: AutoExtremist defined "percussive maintenance" as "the fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again."

Quote Of The Day is from Frank J. Fleming: "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, but doesn't really complement insulin shots."


Wednesday October 16, 2013

RoboCar: According to Forbes magazine, Mercedes-Benz will start selling cars that can fully drive themselves by 2020. But it won't launch a special vehicle just for that purpose. Rather, it "looks to incorporate autonomous driving technology into its regular lineup, most likely starting with its flagship model, the S-Class."

Interestingly, back in 1925 or so, self-driving cars referred to the new concept of rental vehicles, the term meaning that you could drive it yourself rather than hiring a car and chauffeur. Over the years, there have been many sci-fi stories featuring automatic vehicles or robot-guided machines.

I've written about the social and cultural implications of self-driving cars before.

A self-driving car would change everything. How can the police arrest one for being drunk if the car is doing the driving? MADD will probably go out of business. (I would hope they'd be happy to do so.) The taxi business would probably suffer - who needs a cab when your car is your own chauffeur? You could even sit in the back seat. Or take a nap.

I certainly enjoy driving on near-empty back roads but take no pleasure in navigating city traffic. Nor do I look forward to rush hour driving. I'd rather read a book. Or watch television. Or talk on the phone. With a self-driving car, I can do any - or all - of these things. Just tell the car your destination and it will get you there, using sensors, navigation software and a GPS.

Ever have one of those medical or dental procedures where you're told that you must bring someone along to drive you home? "Not necessary, doc. My car will get me there."

Intelligent cars can drive closer together than humans. Road traffic could be denser without the need for more roads. (Lower taxes?! Dare we hope?!) Self-driving cars would bring to an end to poky drivers and road hogs, too.

sherlock car blog

Maybe we'll have robots as drivers. That would be cool in a kinda Fifties battery-powered tin toy way. The future may be very interesting, indeed.

car blogMisheard Music: Between the awful car audio systems of the '60s-70s (I use the word 'system' as an act of generosity; for many cars, it was an AM receiver and one, cheap, tinny speaker.) and my loss of hearing (resulting from running noisy injection molding machines, saws and routers in those manly, no-earplug, pre-OSHA days), I've probably misunderstood half the songs I've listened to.

Recently, I was losing myself in the sublayers of a Google search, when I came across the lyrics to 'Let 'Em In', one of those trite but can't-get-it-outta-your-head ditties from the mid-1970s. By Wings. You know the one. With the McCartneys warbling, "Someone's knockin' at the door ..." I always thought it was some kind of bizarre religious/political statement:

"Sister Suzie, Brother John,
Martin Luther, Falun Gong ...
"

Well, Google informed me that there is no reference to the China-outlawed spiritual group, Falun Gong. The correct phrase is "Phil and Don" - a nod to the Everly Brothers, who were an inspiration to Paul in his early years.

So, to Phil and Don Everly, my sincere regrets.

I'm still not yet ready to apologize to Neil Diamond over that 1978 song about the pseudo-hip preacher, 'The Reverend Blue Jeans.' (permalink)

Short Days Ahead: I took a photo from the back deck. It was only 6:10 pm but the sun was already below the horizon and the moon was well on the rise.

There was a chill in the air and I was wearing a sweatshirt. By 7:00 pm, it was completely dark.

Quote Of The Day is from Tom McMahon: "For a part-time photographer/contract killer it would be easy to get confused over that "head shot" notation in your appointment calendar."


Tuesday October 15, 2013

Oh, The Days Dwindle Down: There's now no doubt that Fall has arrived. A chill is in the air. It's sweater weather - every day. Mornings often find us socked in with fog. Monday was such a day. When the sun broke through late in the morning, I hopped in my '39 Plymouth coupe and took a ride.

the view through the windshield

In terms of scenery - what a difference a few days make. The Fall colors are nearing their peak - lots of golds, reds and various shades of yellow to be seen. The warmth of summer is gone - it was 52 degrees at 11:00 am. But the skies were a pale blue wearing a white skirt of fog in the hills. Pretty. And the roads were practically empty. I had a very pleasant drive.

Throttlegate And Happy Feet: A California jury has ruled that Toyota Motor Corp. was not at fault in a deadly 2009 accident in which 66 year-old Noriko Uno was killed when her 2006 Camry ran into a tree after being hit by another car. Uno's survivors blamed the accident and her death on unintended acceleration.

This case was "seen as a bellwether for the outcomes of about 85 addition wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits filed in California state courts in the aftermath of millions of Toyotas in 2009 and 2010 to address reports of sudden unintended acceleration."

Toyota has also won personal injury cases arising from the unintended acceleration issue in New York and in Pennsylvania.

When the unintended acceleration story broke in September 2009 - 3.8 million vehicles indicted for floor mats that may cause the accelerator pedal to get stuck in a wide open throttle position - I read further and found that my wife's 2005 Avalon was on the list.

We've never experienced such a problem with the car. Nevertheless, I carefully examined the Avalon's driver side mat. It is anchored to the floor with a hole-and-hook thingie. The underside of the mat has molded rubber spikes. These two features make the mat almost impossible to move.

car blogIn trying to figure out what conditions would be required to make the mat slide, I came up with three that would have to be simultaneously present: a ton of slippery dirt beneath the mat, cleated soccer shoes and a severe case of Happy Feet.

Steve Martin, you'll kill us all.

Then it was decided that Toyota's accelerator pedals also played a role in these 'unintended acceleration' incidents.

The entire unintended acceleration matter was made a political football by then U.S. Transportation Secretary - and idiot - Ray LaHood, who said that owners of Toyota vehicles recalled for accelerator-pedal defects should "stop driving" them and bring them to a Toyota dealer for repair. "We need to fix the problem so people don't have to worry about disengaging the engine or slamming the brakes on or put it in neutral." LaHood later retracted the remarks but the damage was done.

LaHood had already gone on record wanting to force everyone to use bicycles or light rail - 'Transformational Behavior' he calls it - and, as a government employee, he represented the interests of Government Motors (Chrysler and GM) which happened to be Toyota competitors.

I would point out that every year far more people have been killed or maimed by mass transit than by sticky gas pedals. Or stuck floor mats. Or Happy Feet.

Music Mix: What do you get when you combine The Supremes, the Electric Light Orchestra and Michael Jackson? This.

Political Humor: Comedian Jimmy Fallon quipped, "A new study says 9% of Americans have considered giving up their U.S. citizenship. It's gotten so bad that even Obama said, "Are you sure I wasn't born in Kenya?"" And: "How did Harry Reid keep Joe Biden out of the government shutdown negotiations? "I just pretended to throw a tennis ball.""

Then there's this from Jay Leno: "A CBS News Poll says 72% of Americans blame Republicans for the government shutdown while 61% blame the Democrats. See, this is why we have a debt crisis. That adds up to 133%."

Quote Of The Day is from Woody Allen: "You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to live to be a hundred."


Monday October 14, 2013

Firebirds Of Yore: Hemmings has posted a well-written article by Kurt Ernst about the General Motors' Firebird turbine cars of the 1950s.

the view through the windshield

"Designed under the guidance of the legendary Harley Earl, the official purpose of all three Firebird models was to test the feasibility of the gas turbine engine in automotive applications. Each also pushed the envelope of technology, and by the time the Firebird III was introduced in 1958, General Motors had done a remarkably good job of predicting what the future of the automobile would look like."

I saw all three Firebirds in 2008 at the Antique Automobile Club of America Auto Museum in Hershey, PA. I've written more about the Firebird III here.

Good Luck With That: The swoopy-coupe Cadillac version of the Chevy Volt rechargeable hybrid will go on sale in January. The 2014 Cadillac ELR is priced at over $75,995.

car blog

Its styling is almost identical to the Cadillac Converj show car of 2009. At the price of more than three Priuses, that's a lot of money for a tarted-up, rebodied Volt.

The Other Lincoln: A book by the late historian C.A. Tripp, 'The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln', claimed that the 16th president was gay. Many conservative critics were outraged and charge that the evidence for such a claim is weak, at best.

Books like this sell well because, as Don Henley sang in 1982, "... give us Dirty Laundry." This song reportedly inspired Kitty Kelley to change careers. Personally, I don't really care about Abe's idiosyncrasies.

Lincoln should be judged by his accomplishments, not his personal preferences. But in the spirit of tawdry gossip, I'll point out that Lincoln favored dark clothes and never showed his teeth. Soooo ... maybe ol' Abe was a vampire.

He did have a blog, though.

Apple Pie, Not Coke: Charles G. Hill wrote about a specific case of music evolution. Before it was used to peddle Coca-Cola, 'I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing' was a different song entirely. 'True Love And Apple Pie' was performed by Susan Shirley back in 1971. Charles has posted the YouTube clip.

I'm surprised that the smiling British lass with the happy eyes and sweet voice didn't become a big success.

Book Review: 'Breakthrough: Our Guerilla War to Expose Fraud and Save Democracy' by James O'Keefe

Mr. O'Keefe is best known as the man who brought down ACORN with his undercover videos. Similar video stings have exposed the malfeasance of Planned Parenthood, NPR and other liberal sacred cows.

This book is a combination memoir, manifesto and activist guide book and recounts O’Keefe's four years as a citizen journalist. It was engrossing to begin with but ... (more >>>)

This Just Dawned On Me: I can correct and upload a spelling error on this blog in less time than it takes Wite-Out to dry. (permalink)

Lame Joke Of The Day: Q: What's red and smells like blue paint? A: Red paint.


Friday October 11, 2013

sherlock car blogLast Gas: My '39 Plymouth coupe was getting low on fuel, so I drove into Battle Ground and tanked up. I also poured Sta-Bil into the gas tank, figuring that this will probably be my last fill-up before I put the car away for the winter.

The weather was mostly cloudy and 54 degrees at 11:00 am. The trees had a bit more color than last week but are not yet at peak.

During my drive, I spotted that little Playskool green smart car again, this time toddling northbound on Ward Rd. just north of Vancouver. I feel safer in the Plymouth, which seems gargantuan by comparison.

What?! They Still Publish Esquire? When I was growing up, Esquire was an old man's magazine So, you can understand why I thought all Esquire readers had passed away ages ago and that the mag was also long-gone.

Then I read this blurb: "Esquire holds an annual car of the year award, and for the past four years, only American or German autos, such as the Cadillac ATS and the Audi S4, have earned the publication's top pick. But for 2013, the top pick is from Japan: the 2014 Lexus IS350 F Sport."

The ancient magazine called the IS "thrilling first, responsible second." Perhaps thrilling enough to raise the dead.

Just Wondering ... How come all light rail systems in America have butt-ugly cars that are shaped like saltine packs?

the view through the windshield

Why can't we have trolleys like this? Or this?

joe sherlock blogThe Little Engine That Couldn't: Obama paid $634 million for his non-functioning, train wreck website for Obamacare.

Digital Trends called the site "the digital equivalent of a rock."

Fifteen years ago, I used to build multi-page websites for my business clients for as little as $400. And the sites worked well. My clients were delighted with the results.

In 1999, I constructed a 40-page website - gratis - for the Pacific Northwest Region of the Lincoln & Continental Owners Club. Within a few months, our little site had the number one ranking on the top eleven search engines of that era.

We even beat Ford Motor Company's Lincoln website, which must have pissed Ford off mightily since they had undoubtedly spent millions on it.

Restaurant Review: Bone's BBQ and Burger Bar; Battle Ground, WA

Once known as Bone's Steak & Chop House, this place opened in 2009 to great reviews - including mine. For the record, my wife and I were its very first paying customers and had our photo taken on opening day.

Since then, the restaurant has had its ups and downs, probably because it's been hard to make money in the depressed area known as North Clark County. Good staff departed, replaced by affable but clueless waitpeople. Offerings shrunk, as did the menu and wine list.

In June 2011, after a truly deplorable dining experience, I wrote that I was never returning to Bone's. But an old acquaintance bought me lunch this week, so I did go back - but not on my own dime.

I don't plan ... (more >>>)

There Is Little Correlation Between Talent And Success: Why isn't MST3K still on the air? Why is Harry Reid still in the Senate? How come Frank Sinatra made six thousand times as much money as Jack Jones? Why is Pauly Shore still alive? Or Carrot Top?

Why does James Lileks still have to work while Dave Barry can retire and spend his days clipping bond coupons while newspapers across America rerun his old stuff? And continue to send him money for the privilege of doing so.

Barry does have his moments, however.

In a recently-reprinted 1990 column, Dave writes about his dad's Hillman Minx: "... my father was one of the very few Americans who bought the Hillman Minx, a wart-shaped British car with the same rakish, sporty appeal as a municipal parking garage but not as much pickup." And: "A car so technologically backward that the radio was still receiving Winston Churchill speeches. You don't see many Minxes around any more, probably because the factory was bombed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission."

car blog

His dad also bought a Nash Metropolitan: "The Metropolitan was designed by professional cartoonists to look like the main character in a children's book with a name like Buster the Car Goes to Town. It was so small that it was routinely stolen by squirrels."

Quote Of The Day is from Steven Wright: "You can't have everything. Where would you put it?"


Thursday October 10, 2013

Big Bucks: A 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO has changed hands in a private sale for a whopping $52 million, the highest price paid for a car.

Ferrari only constructed 36 of the 300 horsepower, 3-liter V-12-powered Series 1 250 GTOs in 1962 and 1963. This one was once owned by Henry N. Manney III.

Not Available In Stores: Best breakfast cereal ever - as seen on a recent episode of 'The Simpsons'. It would make a great St. Patrick's Day gift.

Obama Is Not A Do-Nothing President: As the headline says, 'Barack Obama Has Created More Conservatives Than He Has Jobs.' So there.

Sounds Good To Me: Tom McCannon wrote: "Let's rename our southern border the Mexican-American War Memorial so Obama can put a fence around it."

joe sherlock blogMore Tarnish On The Crown Of Camelot: The late and unlovely Helen Thomas once dated John F. Kennedy. She said that he was "too fresh" for her."

Jack probably asked her to put a bag over her head.

More on Helen here.

Game Of Thrones: The British government has affirmed that, if/when Charles becomes King, his wife, Camilla will automatically become Queen of England.

I'm puzzled. Doesn't Elton John have to abdicate first?

Book Review: 'This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral-Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking! - in America's Gilded Capital' by Mark Leibovich

This page-turner grabs one's attention from the get-go. It begins thusly: "Tim Russert is dead. But the room was alive. You can't work it too hard at a memorial service, naturally. It's the kind of thing people notice. But the big-ticket Washington departure rite can be such a great networking opportunity." Hillary Clinton is there, "keeping her smile affixed like hardened gum and sending out powerful 'stay away from this vehicle' vibes."

Leibovich, chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, presents a gossipy, snarky and funny book about the political, media and mega-consultant cesspool known as Washington, D.C.

I learned that ... (more >>>)

Quote Of The Day is from Ayn Rand: "We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission."


Wednesday October 9, 2013

Happy Birthday: Henry Ford's assembly line has turned 100. On October 7, 1913, Ford's Highland Park made history when Ford installed the plant's moving automotive assembly line.

Henry simplified the labor needed down to discrete tasks that could be performed by relatively unskilled labor. Ford reduced the time required to assemble a car from 12.5 to 6 man-hours; within a year, it was down to 93 man-minutes. This made it possible for Henry Ford to cut the price of his Model Ts in half and boost production so that, in 1914, Ford made more cars than all other automakers combined.

Ford dropped the price of the Model T from $850 to $550 in 1913, and $440 in 1915. Over 500,000 Model Ts were sold in 1915.

Before the T, cars were mere ... (more >>>)

Dead Swan: The miniscule Toyota IQ-based Aston Martin Cygnet city car has been discontinued. None were imported to the U.S. and only 143 examples are registered in the UK, its primary market.

Arabs Invent Gaydar: A medical test being developed by Kuwait will be used to 'detect' homosexuals and prevent them from entering the country – or any of the Gulf Cooperation Countries.

"It's illegal to be gay in 78 countries, with lesbianism banned in 49. Five countries mete out the death penalty to gay people – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen and Mauritania."

Exceptions are made for sex involving goats. Not that there's anything wrong with that. (permalink)

Obama's War On Catholics Continues: Father Ray Leonard, a Catholic priest who serves a Georgia military base, was not allowed to celebrate Mass at the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay over the weekend. "Shutdown: No Catholic service till further notice," a sign posted on the chapel said.

Father Leonard commented, "My parishioners were upset. They were angry and dismayed. They couldn't believe that in America they'd be denied access to Mass by the government."

Old Clocks: James Lileks has written: "The loss of the ticking clock is one of the fine achievements of modern life; the tick is an anachronism, a throwback, and perhaps it's telling that the only place you ever hear it these days is on '60 Minutes,' a show staffed by the CBS news gerontocracy."

Bad Pun of the Day: James Bond once slept right through an earthquake. He was shaken; not stirred.


Tuesday October 8, 2013

Negative Review: Dan Neil doesn't think much of the Nissan Versa Note. "And no, the Nissan Versa Note isn't a great inexpensive car. Actually, it is a shambles, a car so out of step with the best in its segment, it almost has an early 1970s, East German vibe to it. The ball pit at IKEA doesn't have this much hard plastic inside. The continuously variable transmission (CVT) moans like it is in the third day of a four-day exorcism. The start button appears to operate according to a secret code written by Dan Brown."

And: "It's. Dead. Slow."

No Longer In Print: Model Auto Review, a British model car magazine, will print its last issue in December 2013. Starting in 2014, it will become an online-only publication. A declining subscriber base and fewer retail outlets meant smaller, more expensive print runs, exacerbated by increased postage costs.

Editor Rod Ward wrote, "We already have a number of reactions from readers to the news ... so far everyone has been very understanding and sympathetic, regretting the passing of the print magazine, but looking forward to the new online version."

I was a subscriber to this fine publication for many years. I still have the fifth-year commemorative model which I purchased in 1987. The first issue I could find ... (more >>>)

sherlock blogSpeaking Of Print Media ... the newspaper advertising free fall that started in about 2003 "has generated so much negative publicity when the quarterly statistics were released that the Newspaper Association of America has stopped reporting quarterly data this year."

Professor Mark Perry believes that "total print newspaper advertising revenue will decline this year to just under $17 billion, which would be a $2.2 billion drop in revenues from last year."

In 2000 ... (more >>>)

Fluidity: James Lileks once ranted about windshield washer fluid. My feelings toward the liquid are generally benign. I buy whatever blue stuff is on sale; all the methanol-containing, non-ammonia brands seem to work equally well for me. It's so easy to do now; just pop the cap and pour it in.

Unlike our 1960s-era Volkswagen Beetles, where one had to depressurize the holding tank, pour in the washer fluid and then repressurize the tank with compressed air. Often, the air pressure would maddeningly disappear before the vessel ran out of fluid. Usually, the blow-molded polyethylene tank would burst every couple of years or so, providing a fairly predictable revenue stream for VW's Parts Department.

Once or twice a year, I apply Rain-X to the windshields of our cars. It makes the water on the glass 'bead up' and cuts down on wiper blade noise and strain. I've been using Rain-X for 25 years and really like it. Although, one of my car buddies claims that Rain-X reacted with his ammonia washer fluid and instantly rendered his windshield opaque. And he also doesn't think much of Rain-X's orange-colored windshield washer fluid, either.

What we really need is a Windshield Roomba.

New Math: Jay Leno has weighed in about the debt crisis. "The government will run out of money in just two weeks. I'm no financial whiz ... but we're over 16 trillion dollars in debt. Doesn't that mean that we already ran out of money? Like 16 trillion dollars ago?"

A Small Man: Barack Obama doesn't seem to have a decent, magnanimous bone in his body. His actions during the government shutdown prove this.

He had cones placed along highway viewing areas outside Mount Rushmore barring visitors from pulling over and taking pictures of the monument even though it's a road outside the park.

The Amber Alert website has been shut down but Michelle Obama's 'Let's Move' and 'Drink Water' sites are still operational.

The news is full of stories of private residences on public land being declared off-limits because of the government shutdown. There is a story regarding an elderly couple temporarily evicted form a cabin they own on federal land. And the Obama administration is also turning people away from privately-run inns on federal land. And yet, at the height of hypocrisy, Marian Robinson, President Obama's mother-in-law, continues to reside in the White House, a federally-owned property on federal land.

John Nolte wrote, "While our president still enjoys his essential employees and locations: the White House chefs, Camp David, and a military golf course, there doesn't seem to be any question that in mercenary pursuit of a political win, this White House is determined to unreasonably punish as many everyday people as possible. And this includes children sick with cancer. That might sound like hyperbole, but it is not.

Although Barack Obama's chefs have been deemed "essential"... (more >>>)

Ever Wonder Where Han Solo Is Now? He's on Mars and still frozen in carbonite.

Quote Of The Day is from Thomas Sowell: "One of the many affectations of the political left and the intelligentsia is to disdain crass material things. But it is the increased production of crass material things which has released hundreds of millions of human beings from the curse of grinding poverty and endless toil, and given them longer lives."


Monday October 7, 2013

A Change In The Weather: Fall is definitely in the air. Nights are cold - lows are in the upper 30s to low 40s. Mornings are foggy, with the sun failing to make an appearance until noon. Or later.

When the sun finally appeared Friday at 12:30 pm, I fired up my '39 Plymouth coupe and went for a ride. The temperature was a brisk 52 degrees.

During my drive, I saw a little green Smart coming towards me on a 50 mph road. While I only got a momentary glimpse as we whizzed by each other, the two occupants looked cramped and frightened. Not me - the Plymouth is roomy and I was protected by heavy-gauge, battleship-like steel. No airbags, though.

the view through the windshield

There wasn't much Fall color to be seen - most of the foliage was still green - the faded, low-saturation, late-in-the-season hue. I suspect that things will change substantially before month's end.

How About Blister Cards With Hang Tags - Like Hot Wheels? In case of a natural disaster or terrorist attack, a Washington state coroner has proposed shrink-wrapping bodies using a portable poly-wrap machine.

Crafting Dough: Many of the supermarket bakeries around here offer "Artisan Bread." It makes me think of a sallow, bearded man in a stark SoHo loft, sculpting a loaf of Wonder Bread into the shape of the Guggenheim Bilbao. The dictionary defines 'artisan' as a skilled manual worker; a craftsperson.

One would think, therefore, that producing Artisan Bread would involve some kind of skilled craft tools. A jeweler's loupe? Chisel? Glassblower's tongs? Nope.

According to artisanbakers.com, "An artisan baker is a craftsperson who is trained to the highest ability to mix, ferment, shape and bake a hand-crafted loaf of bread. They understand the science behind the chemical reactions of the ingredients and know how to provide the best environment for the bread to develop."

Aha! So, all non-artisan bread is Sloppily-made Bread. Thanks, artisanbakers, for the enlightenment. (For lunch, I'll think I'll have rare roast beef on Careless Jewish Rye.)

What's next - Artisan Garbagemen?

Harry's Hardship: Last week, Jay Leno spoke about the D.C. follies du jour, "You can see the effects of the government shutdown all over. It's so bad that Harry Reid has been forced to change his own embalming fluid."

It's Only Monday ... but I think this will be the Headline of the Week: 'Man In Boxers Leads Police On Brief Chase.'

joe sherlock blog

Quote Of The Day is from architect Frederick L. Olmstead: "After all is said and done, a hell of a lot more is said than done."


Friday October 4, 2013

car blogInspiring Automotive Publisher: John R. Bond was publisher of Road & Track magazine from 1949 to 1972. He was a pioneer in field of automotive writing and publishing. An engineer by training, Bond once designed motorcycles for Harley-Davidson.

Born in Muncie, Indiana on July 25, 1912, his automotive interests were encouraged by a father who was also in the automotive business.

Following graduation in mechanical engineering from the General Motors Institute in Flint, Michigan in 1934, John worked with Harley-Davidson, Studebaker (from 1940 to '43) and White Truck.

When he began contributing to R&T, he was a design engineer with custom and race car builder Frank Kurtis.

Road & Track magazine was founded ... (more >>>)

The Government Made Us Do It: Five-digit ZIP usage became mandatory in 1967. ZIP is an acronym for the Zone Improvement Plan.

Anyone remember the Mr. ZIP stick figure? He was Ready Kilowatt's second cousin. And was rumored to be gay because, for a postal worker, he seemed to have a little too much 'zip'.

Trivia: Mr. Zip's mid-'60s theme song was 'Zip-a-dee-doo-dah' sung by Ethel Merman.

Prior to ZIP codes, major cities were divided into postal codes - established in 1943. In those days, I lived in Philadelphia 24, Penna.

Best Dental Office Sign ... ever.

Book Review: 'Those Angry Days: Roosevelt, Lindbergh, and America's Fight Over World War II, 1939-1941' by Lynne Olson

This work is a detailed, definitive account of the debate over American intervention in World War II. Over 550 pages in length, it details the bitter clash of people and ideologies that divided the nation and ultimately determined the outcome of the war. Two of the most famous men in America, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Charles Lindbergh, were on opposite sides of the issue.

The book spans the period from 1939 to '41 and covers the oft-rancorous squabbles that resonated throughout Washington, DC and the rest of the country as isolationists pitted themselves against interventionists. Olson has covered the tale in great detail which may intimidate casual readers. But those who yearn for a complete and unbiased perspective will appreciate her efforts.

Some things never change - the Congress of pre-war America was as partisan and duplicitous as the current bunch and the lies and maneuvers of special interest groups to manipulate public opinion seems all too familiar.

I was surprised to learn ... (more >>>)

Question Of The Week: If the government can rapidly secure all our national parks within a day after the 'shutdown', how come it can't secure our borders?

Best Movie Reference Of The Week: Obama = Captain Queeg of 'The Caine Mutiny'.

Hal Colebatch wrote: "Like Queeg, Obama functions adequately at a low level of responsibility, and like Queeg he is unable to handle a real crisis. Like Queeg he has never had to face a real enemy in the military sense. Like Queeg, he has very considerable cunning and plausibility in protecting his own ends. Add to this the fact that he is the first president to reveal himself as hating and despising much of the traditional culture of the United States and a wish to see it weakened."

Bad Pun of the Day: Did you hear about the shepherd who drove his flock through town ... and got a traffic ticket for making a ewe turn?


Thursday October 3, 2013

September Auto Sales: Light vehicle sales were at a 15.2 million last month, up 2% from a year ago but down 5% from the a very strong sales rate last month.

the view through the windshield

Ford Motor Company sales were up 6%, although Lincoln sales declined 5% from last year. BMW's U.S. sales increased over 8%, while Mercedes-Benz rose 6%. Audi was also up 6%.

General Motors sales dropped 11%. Chevrolet fell 15%, while Cadillac sales increased 10% and Buick was up 6%.

Chrysler Group fell slightly compared with September 2012. Jeep sales declined 5%.

Subaru continued its march of success with a sales increase of 15%. Toyota was down 4%; Lexus sales were also off 4%. American Honda was off 10%, with Acura down by 19%. Nissan sales declined 6%. Volkswagen sales dropped 12% in September.

Smart car sales were off 39% year-over-year - down to a mere 625 units last month.

car blogRIP: Tom Clancy, author of such mega-hit novels as 'The Hunt for Red October', 'Patriot Games' and 'The Sum Of All Fears', has died at age 66.

Seventeen of his novels were number-one New York Times best sellers. More than 100 million copies of his books are in print.

Royal Hardship: The government shutdown has forced His Majesty Barack Obama to make do with only a quarter of his 1,701 person staff. That would leave 436 "vital" employees. The 90 people who look after his living quarters would be slashed to 15 to "provide minimum maintenance an support."

In comparison, Buckingham Palace, which is twelve times the size of the White House and has its own clockmaker, only has an 800 person staff. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden gets by with a 203.

King Harald V of Norway and his court make do with a mere 152 staffers. My friend and fellow Prepper, Joe P., wrote this to me, "I actually met King Harald V many years ago. He sails his own yacht with an amazing staff of one."

joe sherlock blog

Thought For Today: Eagles may soar but weasels never get sucked into jet engines.


Wednesday October 2, 2013

Auction Madness: The Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas auction was held last week at the Mandalay Bay Resort Events Center. While there were no multi-million dollar Duesenbergs or Ferraris offered, there were some interesting cars on the block and a few price surprises:

A lightly-customized 1950 Ford Tudor with a scalloped paint job crossed the block for $36,000. As a teenager, I could have gotten a black '50 Ford with dual Glasspacks for $100 but my dad wouldn't let me buy it.

A 1956 DeSoto Fireflite Sportsman two-door hardtop, featuring the stock 330 cu. in Hemi V8, push-button automatic transmission, equipped with Kelsey Hayes wire wheels and finished in correct Iridescent Grey and Shell Pink sold for $57,000.

To me, this color combination represents the quintessential DeSoto look of the period - a very nice-looking '50s machine. A '55 Fireflite convertible, done in Carnival Red and Surf White, sold for $71,500.

Two years ago, a 1957 DeSoto Adventurer convertible ... (more >>>)

joe sherlock blogHope, Change and Subway Tokens: A recent study shows that young people drive less, not because they prefer to walk and take transit, but because of the weak economy.

They're just not making enough money to afford a car.

Q: What's the most common phrase uttered by recently-graduated Philosophy majors?

A: "You want fries with that?"

Happy Birthday: Bubble gum is celebrating its 85th anniversary this month. Created in 1928 by Walter Deimer, a Philadelphia accountant, the perennial treat was pegged Dubble Bubble by its maker and sold by Fleer Gum, which owned the brand name.

Privately-held Concord Confections, Inc. of Toronto acquired the Dubble Bubble brand in 1998, selling it in 62 different countries and generating sales of more than $100 million.

So, Other Than That, How Was The Ceremony? Headline: 'Wedding delayed after man cuts off testicles, storms into church.'

The vicar reported that "the man had chopped his testicles off with a pair of scissors and was going berserk, chucking chairs around."

"When I went in the church, I saw something on the floor which I could only describe as flesh, which I thought was part of his arm but that was one of his testicles."

Quote Of The Day is from the late Jerry Flint: "The art of running an auto business is not about killing cars or shutting plants or demanding that partmakers chop prices. Anyone can do that. The art is in designing and producing vehicles that people really want or need - vehicles that consumers "gotta have," and that they are willing to pay a good price to get."


Disclaimer

This blog is about cars, automobiles, vehicles of various sorts and more.

The facts presented in this car blog are based on my best guesses and my substantially faulty geezer memory. The opinions expressed herein are strictly those of the author and are protected by the U.S. Constitution. Probably.

Spelling, punctuation and syntax errors are cheerfully repaired when I find them; grudgingly fixed when you do.

If I have slandered any brands of automobiles, either expressly or inadvertently, they're most likely crap cars and deserve it. Automobile manufacturers should be aware that they always have the option of trying to change my mind by providing me with vehicles to test drive.

If I have slandered any people, politicians, celebrities or corporations in this blog, either expressly or inadvertently, they should buy me strong drinks (and an expensive meal), while patiently attempting to prove that they're not the jerks I've portrayed them to be. If you're buying, I'm willing to listen.

Don't be shy - try a bribe. It might help.

copyright 2013 - Joseph M. Sherlock - All applicable rights reserved


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